E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Actaea rubra (Aiton) Willd.
baneberry (red baneberry)
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Bryan Kelly-McArthur  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #89418)

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Distribution of Actaea rubra
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from stout, branched, woody stem-base and fibrous roots; stems 1 to several, erect, 40-100 cm tall, usually branched, sparsely-hairy.
All stem leaves (one very low, and 1 or 2 mid- or upper-stem leaves), alternate, long-stalked, 2 to 3 times divided in threes or pinnately compound, the segments egg-shaped, (2) 3-9 cm long, the margins sharply cleft, irregularly toothed.
Inflorescence of terminal and axillary, many-flowered racemes, the flowers radially symmetric; flower stalks 5-8 mm long; petals 5-10, white to cream-coloured, 2-3.5 mm long, egg- to spoon-shaped, clawed; sepals 3 to 5, early deciduous, petal-like, round, whitish- or purplish-green, 2-4 mm long; pistil 1; stamens many, longer than the petals.
Berries, red or sometimes white, widely ellipsoid, 5-11 mm long; stalks 6-15 mm long; seeds brown, cone- to wedge-shaped, 3-3.5 mm long, surface wrinkled.
Fruit toxic to humans. The plant is usually red-fruited, however, the white-fruited forma neglecta (Gillman) Robins. can be more common in some localities.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Moist to mesic streambanks, woodlands and forests in the lowland and montane zones; frequent throughout BC; N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF and S to NJ, OH, SD, NM, AZ and CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Actaea rubra

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 0 987 2750
Slope Gradient (%) 0 17 205
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 23 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
1 4 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: BG(3), BWBS(294), CWH(189), ESSF(617), ICH(985), IDF(226), IMA(1), MH(8), MS(323), PP(4), SBPS(28), SBS(984), SWB(3)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-tolerant, submontane to subalpine, transcontinental North American forb. Occurs on fresh to very moist, nitrogen-rich soils within boreal, cool temperate, and cool mesothermal climates. Its occurrence increases with increasing precipitation and continentality. Occasional in broad-leaved forests on water-receiving (alluvial, floodplain, seepage, and stream-edge) sites. A nitrophytic species characteristic of Moder and Mull humus forms.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is subalpine boreal & cool mesothermal.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Actaea rubra subsp. arguta (Nutt.) Hultén
Actaea rubra subsp. rubra (Aiton) Willd.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References